New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) – Rep. Paul Ryan was prepared when seniors first responded inhospitably to his remarks about repealing Obamacare at the AARP conference in New Orleans Friday.
"I had a feeling there would be mixed reaction so let me get into it," the Republican vice presidential nominee said, after his first line about repealing President Barack Obama's signature health care law was met with audible boos throughout the large convention room floor.
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The reception toward Mitt Romney's running mate improved but remained tepid even when he used his mother Betty Ryan Douglas, who was sitting in the front row with her older son Tobin, as an example of his commitment to protecting the entitlement program for seniors in or near retirement.
"I'm very proud of my mom, and I'm happy she is having a great retirement, Medicare is a big part of her security," Ryan said of his 78-year-old mother and retiree who lives part-time in Florida.
"Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my mom's generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.," he added.
Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, attended the AARP Life@50+ conference on Friday shortly after Obama addressed the group via satellite. Members of AARP – a nonprofit organization and a powerful lobbying group that boasts of having more than 37 million members – could submit questions to the nominees on their website.
As both campaigns make their appeals to the crucial senior demographic and make the case for ensuring long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the House Budget Committee chairman accused the Democratic president of putting politics before policy.
"Inaction today will mean sharp cuts tomorrow. Time and again this President has ducked the tough issues, he has put his own job security over your retirement security," continued Ryan, despite a smattering of boos coming from the audience. "Of course, he said he would be willing to work with Republicans but he has not moved an inch closer to common ground."
In addition to repealing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, Ryan said the Republican team is proposing a plan that "empowers future seniors to choose the coverage that works best for them from a list of plans that are required to offer at least the same level of benefits as traditional Medicare."
"This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage – no exceptions," he added. "Our idea is to force insurance companies to compete against each other to better serve seniors, with more help for the poor and the sick – and less help for the wealthy."
The Wisconsin lawmaker praised the reform work in Medicare Part D, the program for prescription drugs, and touted their efforts to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.
"And by the way, these aren't just Republican ideas. Medicare reforms based on choice and competition go back to the Clinton administration. Experts from both parties helped form this plan. Democrats in Congress have supported these ideas," said Ryan.
Seated in the front row, just a few seats away from Ryan's mother and brother, were a few women who, like many others in the convention hall, made comments throughout his speech Paula Tillman who was visiting from Washington, D.C. was unaware she was sitting so close to family members of the vice presidential hopeful, but she said if she had known they were there she would have made the same comments that included "Obama '12" and "that's a lie."
Later, while visiting a fruit stand with his mother in Florida, Ryan responded to the negative reaction in the room.
"Entitlement reform has unfortunately been made very partisan by partisans, and so I have gotten that kind of reaction and unfortunately it's what we come to expect because the politics of reforming entitlements has become very bitter and it's very unfortunate," he told reporters in Lakeland.
Ryan is such an amateur....it's embarrassing.
They were booing you ryan because they know darn well your a liar and a scam artist. Take that to the bank pal. Theres no way romney will be president. The people have seen the true colors of the gop and we are not impressed. Obama 2012
Democrats created Medicare. They're protecting it. Republicans, with their anti-government ideology, are trying to destroy it, bit by bit. The AARP knows this. That's why they booed.
Social Security and Medicare are sacred. And it will stay that way if you vote for the Dems. It will eventually be privatized if you vote Republican. These are programs you have paid for. Don't let them do this! Vote Democratic.
The AARP sold the Country down the drain when they colluded with the administration and helped get Obamacare passed. As a Senior, I bitterly resent their heist of our tax dollars, and he enormous burden they have placed on the economy, in their effort to garner a place in the Obama stratosphere. Unfortunately, I cancelled my membership years ago. Now I am sorry as I would love to contact them to tell them to cancel it now and the reason. Timing, sometimes, is everything.
Romney gave to the Mormon church. Period. He is buying his own planet of KOLOB. That is NOT charity for the people of the U.S.A.
No more AARP for me. Nothing is sadder than those with a closed mind.
Looks like some of those seniors are not as gulible as Paul Ryan`s mother. Then again, she probably knoes that she is being used by the campaign. I wonder how she is getting her remuneraion?
Ryan's budget affrims Social Security, Medicare, Disability, Elderly, and Veterans benefits are on the table for cuts. But....according to Ryan's Budget proposal, Tax increases for the rich are off the table. Like All said, " This election isn't about Obama. It's about your Mama".
For his proposal, Ryan will be rewarded with losing the Presidential election and congressioanl election. Let's send him to the unemployment line in 2012 !!!
It's a shame tar and feathers weren't available. Maybe today he'd be pulling a lot of skin off to finally get clean.
Ryan is a dangerous sociopath disciple of that other nut sociopath Ayn Rand.
Yea Ryan our seniors DO NOT TRuSt YOU!
Whoa... let me get this straight! Republicans are now saying nice things about attempts to reform health care during the Clinton administration? The reforms they demonized in the 1990s? The Devil must have just taken a chill.
Consider the source of the boos. AARP's a wing of the Democrat party. Hopefully there are some members who don't tow the leftist line of AARP.
The AARP is a nonpartisan organization. They provide advocacy and support for all members, regardless of political affiliation.